Setting Healthy and Appropriate Boundaries
As parent you are responsible for setting boundaries for your children both for safety and to teach them to make responsible choices. It gives them the skills they need when they are faced with difficult decisions in life. The boundaries need to be very clear and they need to be something you are willing to follow through with or there is no point in setting boundaries.
Sabotaging the Respect You Should Get From Children
Children need and want parents who are willing to set up boundaries and follow through with consequences. This is what makes children feel secure in their environment. Parents are notorious for making threats and not following through with consequences.
Taking Four Year Old Toys For Refusing to Pick Up Toys
When my daughter was about four years old I instructed her to pick up her toys. I told her she had 5 minutes to pick them up. She refused and I walked out of her room, she remained in the floor screaming. At four minutes I gave her a one minute on time. When her five minutes was up I went back I and toys were still all over her room. I calmly went to the kitchen, got a trash bag and started putting them in the bag. As you can imagine her screaming and crying got more intense and louder. The entire time I was putting the toys from the floor into a trash bag I didn't look at her, didn't talk to her and no matter how loud she screamed I refused to talk to her. She was well aware of the rule about picking up her toys and she just refused. If I had spoken to her through this I would have been giving her negative reinforcement and at this point she wasn't getting positive or negative reinforcement from me for her inappropriate behavior. At one point she tried to pull the bag out of my hands as I walked out of her room to the shed where her toys remained until it was clear she understood that breaking rules was not acceptable behavior.
To this day she has not refused to pick up her toys. From then on when I told her to pick up her toys she did. About three weeks later I gave her toys back and she had a whole new attitude about doing as she is asked. She is 17 now and I still have the same boundaries. I will ask her to pick up her room and she does. There is no fighting. The one time she tried to refuse I told her if she didn't I would do it for her. She cleaned up her room in record time that day.
Learning for rules and guidelines Children learn that there are rules and guidelines for them no matter if it’s now or at a job one day. Ages from about 18 months to three years old seems to be an important age block. They are always asking questions and following you around wanting to “help” because that is what they do to learn. Children are creatures of habit. They need to know what to do and when. (I can’t tell you have imperative it is that they learn these rules at such an age). Keeping them on a schedule always helps them feel secure and in control because they have those boundaries. When you don’t provide consistency you are teaching them that things are in chaos and they aren't secure when things can change at any given minute, it gives them the impression that they aren't safe and secure.
Boundaries and discipline are to teach a child not for the parents to be mean. Rules need to be clear before the child breaks one. Talk to them about it, use dinner time, family meeting time or going down the road. Make time to talk about your expectations. Do not expect them to get everything right until they have a couple of “trial” times. The rules need to be clear and concise with no gray areas. Be sure your rules and expectations are age appropriate. At three years old you can’t expect them to act ten years old.
Don’t allow the rules to get thrown out the door when they are at their Grandparents home or shopping, eating out or anywhere they may be. It is even more important that they have the foundation you have instilled in them.
Love your children, insist boundaries are followed no matter what and most of all love your children. You will make mistakes, we all do but love should always be unconditional.